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- "Just as I began to roll onto my back, Ren lay down right next to me, snuggled his back against mine, and began to purr. Grateful, I wiped the tears off my cheeks and was able to tune out the night sounds by listening to Ren's purr, which later changed into deep, rhythmic breathing. I inched a little closer to his back, surprised to find I could sleep in the jungle after all."
- —Kelsey Tiger's Curse, page 81
Kelsey Hayes Rajaram is the main protagonist in the Tiger's Curse series. When presented with a chance to visit a foreign land, she left her foster parents behind to travel with Mr. Kadam and a tiger to India. But she soon realized that the tiger she was to look after was actually a prince. She, as Durga's chosen one, must break the 300-year-old curse placed on Ren and his brother Kishan.
Before Tiger's CurseEdit
When she was a freshman in high school, her parents passed away in a car accident. She moved in with her foster parents Sarah and Mike Neilson. She graduated high school and began searching for a job.
Kelsey does not think she is beautiful or ugly, but is rather content with her appearance; however she is incredibly modest and has been described as gorgeous numerous times. She has pale skin, dark brown eyes, and golden-brown hair in loose waves. She usually keeps her hair in a braid with ribbons, something which reminds her of her mother. In Tiger's Voyage she cut her hair until it only reached her shoulders, but a certain dragon used magic to lengthen it down to her knees to make her look more "princess-like", which she later cut. She has an amazing smile, since she had braces for three years. Ren often says Kelsey smells like peaches and cream.
Kelsey is described as determined, brave, courageous and stubborn. She is very loyal to her friends, especially Ren and Kishan, and would destroy her own happiness for something she thinks is right. She has a deep sense of right and wrong, and would risk her life for a loved one. She also has trouble opening her heart to others.
Kelsey is also sarcastic, a trait that she got from her mother. When nervous, she responds with humor. Kishan describes her as loyal, funny, sweet, and kind. Always putting other's before herself, she sometimes forgets to take care of her own needs.
Kelsey first met Ren as a tiger at the circus. When the two traveled to India, he revealed himself to be a cursed prince. As he and Kelsey worked together to break the curse, they fell in love. In Tiger's Curse, Kelsey struggled with her feelings for Ren. She wanted to love him, but was afraid to give her heart away so quickly, feeling as if she didn't deserve him and that he'd end up breaking her heart. Thus she rejected his love and went back home. When Ren showed up on her doorstep in Tiger's Quest, Kelsey realized her true feelings for him. However, Ren lost all memory of Kelsey after being captured by Lokesh. The two lovers could not be together again until Ren fell in love with Kelsey again by spending quality time with her. It soon became apparent that it caused physical pain for Ren to touch or be near Kelsey. But Ren didnt care as long as he kept Kelsey safe. The two often argued and bickered. Kelsey was bitter when she found out that Ren had forced himself to forget her. When the prince finally regained his memory in Tiger's Voyage, Kelsey denied him, choosing Kishan instead. But Ren was persistent and was determined to have her. In Tiger's Destiny, Kelsey constantly debates her feelings for him, confused after she becomes engaged to Kishan. But after Kishan stayed behind to become Damon, Kelsey and Ren go back to their time and Ren asks for Kelsey's hand in marriage, to which she accepts. She and Ren get married and go to their duplex house in Oregon to start their new life together.
In Tiger's Curse, Ren took Kelsey into the jungle to look for his younger brother, Kishan. Instead, Kishan found them. Kelsey thought Kishan was just as handsome as his brother, only darker and more mysterious. He appeared very flirtatious with her. Kishan opened up to Kelsey, telling her of his pain and his guilt. Before Kelsey and Ren left the jungle, he gave her his amulet, hoping it would protect her. In Tiger's Quest, Kishan revealed his romantic feelings for Kelsey. However, she did not feel the same way about him as she was in love with Ren and only thought of Kishan as a friend. After Ren lost all memory of Kelsey, Kishan continued to be her friend and supporter throughout Tiger's Voyage. Later, Kelsey threw herself at Kishan even though she still harbored feelings for Ren. Ren soon recovered his memories, complicating Kishan and Kelsey's relationship. After being rescued from Lokesh in Tiger's Destiny, Kishan proposed to Kelsey, to which she accepts. Throughout Tiger's Destiny, Kelsey constantly reprimanded herself for still having feelings for Ren, but eventually realized that she wasn't meant for Kishan. When sent back in time to help the pre-goddess Durga, Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan are faced with a heart-breaking dilema. Completing only four of five sacrifices, another must be made before the trio may return home. Kishan, knowing that Kelsey's heart truly lies with Ren, stays behind to serve as Durga's tiger Damon, therefore breaking off their engagement.
Li was Kelsey's Wushu teacher. They went out on a few dates during Kelsey's first year of college, and began to develop a serious relationship until Ren showed up on Kelsey's doorstep. Li saw that Kelsey still harbored feelings for the man, so he left the two lovers to their own devices.
Jason was Kelsey's friend in Tiger's Quest. He invited her to join him and a few friends at a sporting event. Although they had a nice time, they never really hit it off.
After forcing Kelsey on a date in Tiger's Quest, Artie brought her to the media center to watch a black-and-white movie on a 6 inch screen. After telling Kelsey he had a date available, Kelsey told him she had gotten together with Ren. Ren threatens to hurt him if he does not back off Kelsey. Kelsey has to stop Ren from hurting him.
Kelsey thinks of Mr. Kadam as her grandfather, because both of hers have died. Mr. Kadam often does most of the research and planning needed for their adventures. She has come to him for advice about her relationship with Ren and Kishan. He has often referred to her as his daughter.
Nilima is the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Mr. Kadam. She is much like a sister and friend to Kelsey.
Kelsey first hears of Lokesh in the story Mr. Kadam tells her about two princes (Ren and Kishan), an evil king (Lokesh) and his daughter (Yesubai). She learns that Lokesh desires the pieces of an amulet that are in Ren and Kishan's possession. She also learns that Lokesh had the opportunity to take the pieces from Ren and Kishan but didn't because that would have ended this whole series before it began. Towards the end of Tiger's Voyage, Lokesh seems to have a slight romantic interest in Kelsey, and wishes to take her as his queen. Mr. Kadam reveals that Lokesh's desire for Kelsey is not only driven by lust and desire. Lokesh also wishes to have a son with her, believing the child born to her would be extremely powerful. In the beginning of Tiger's Destiny, she was held captive by Lokesh, who gave her the choice of submitting herself to him or having him track down and kill Ren and Kishan. She then says that she will marry him, and on the wedding day, she is rescued by Ren and Kishan before the ceremony could take place.
- It was revealed in Tiger's Destiny that Kelsey was born on June 24.
- "Then I was startled out of my romantic haze when I heard the door slam open. I blinked and found myself looking into a pair of golden eyes burning with jealousy."
- —Kelsey Tiger's Voyage, page unknown